Simplify is a word that is always in my mind, echoing, like a mantra. My living space is often times under steady curation to this state. It’s written on my bathroom mirror.
“The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
– Bruce Lee
“It is not the daily increase but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
– Bruce Lee
I often research and consume as much information as I can about things that interest me. This can be time consuming because it tends to fully envelop me for as long as my interests are held. As I have grown older and more experienced, I have realized that not everything that I consume and retain is necessarily useful to me. More importantly, I have realized that the time being consumed is non-refundable. I can never get any back! Having this insight has caused me to focus on embracing more simplicity. Bruce Lee was referring to martial arts in the context of these quotes but I feel that they are truths he meant to be taken to all aspects of life.
One of my favorite tools that I have been using to cultivate simplicity is minimalism. Now, I know that some people look at minimalism in a bad light. I believe that stems from a lack of understanding of the concepts. Ensure that you really know what it is you’re scoffing at. You’re not supposed to live with only 100 possessions or anything like that if it’s not what you want. Do some reading. This entry is not going to be over the concepts of minimalism because Josh and Ryan do a great job of that over at The Minimalists describing their journey. For me it’s just been a tool used to simplify.
Simplicity is something that many people turn away from because they think that being “complex, deep or mysterious” is a goal worth achieving. Here’s a pro-tip: It’s not worth it. More often than not, these people’s efforts to be perceived in such a manner actually leans towards making them look conceited, false or silly. Be true to yourself but, in order to do that, you need to know who you are. It’s easy to get lost in trying to do all the things, be all the things and please all the people. For me, embracing simplicity is about doing the right thing. The appropriate thing. The thing that I would do. It’s about focusing on what you need and not always what you want or what would be nice to have. Would it be nice to have a huge house for a bunch of stuff? Sure. Can you afford it? Maybe. Do you need it? That’s for you to decide. Is it fun to always been spinning plates or juggling tasks? For some people I’m sure that there is a surge of adrenaline that they find intoxicating but this is not for me.
My mindset toward simplicity is also something that I try to bring to my work as well. Does taking up a lot of time make something important? No. Does being really good at something make that thing important? Not always. Maybe some things can be simplified.
At the end of the day, it’s a framework or a lens that I try to look through to determine what is the best thing to do next. Is it full-proof? Hardly. Does it act as a nice compass to guide me through a world that can be wrought with endless to-do lists, meeting and busy-ness? Most definitely.